Hanalei: Crescent bay
What is called Hanalei today once consisted of four ahupuaʻa, Hanalei, Wai’oli, Waipa, and Waikoko. Hanalei was the largest of the nine ahupuaʻa of the Haleleʻa district. It stretched from Waiʻaleʻale through the steep canyon following the Hanalei river to the ocean. It included what is known today as Princeville, Wainini, and about a quarter of the crescent beach.
The eastern boundary was shared with the ahupuaʻa of Kalihikai. A heap of stones topped with a carving of a pig's head was the boundary between the two. It stood at Hulokoa at the far end of Wainini. There is a channel here between the reef that extends along Kalaeokaweonui and the reef that stretches in front of Kalihikai. The western boundary was shared with Waiʻoli and ended at the beach near today's County Pavilion.
When a Ruling Chief's heiau was about to be completed, priests fastened several bundles of white tapa to the ridgepole of the newly completed image house. Then a prayer was offered to Kū.
E Kū i kaupaku o Hanalei, maku’u oloa
O Kū of the mystic, wonderful ridgepole of Hanalei [Malo]
#A maku’u is a bundle of white tapa which is fastened to the ridgepole, while an oloa is a fine white tapa. The reference here may well be to the white clouds that often hang over the mountains of Hanalei.
However, this same ridgepole is used to disparage the character of Hanalei people.
Ki’eki’e kaupoku o Hanalei
The high ridgepole of Hanalei.
[Said of conceited or willful persons, a pun on a place name of Hanalei.] [PE]
In 1816, Kaumuali’i, the last Ali’i Nui (Ruling chief) of Kauai gave Hanalei to Dr. Georg Schaeffer, the envoy of the Russians. Dr. Schaeffer raised the Russian flag, built Fort Alexander on Pu’upōā headland, and left Aleuts to man it. Dr. Schaeffer thought of Hanalei as private property and, failing to act as a proper konohiki should, became hated by the people. They rose against the Aleuts when Kaumuali’i ordered the Russians to leave, killed several, and took the rest prisoners. When Dr. Schaeffer, thinking word had not spread, sailed into Hanalei, the prisoners were put on board the badly leaking boat and Dr. Schaeffer was forced to leave without going ashore.
Near the ocean, there were two large fishponds that must have supplied a great quantity of fish. Kanoa, near the present-day pier, is still is use. The other is completely overgrown but the area remains marshy and usable by water fowl.
Usually the translation of the name Hanalei is given as “Crescent Bay”, but the translations “Wreath Making” and “Lei Valley” are closer to the original. Poetically it was said that the wreaths are the constant rainbows that appear in the upper valley due to the constant rain showers that fall there.
Akule, Selar crumenophtahlmus, was called “the fish of Hanalei” because it was so abundant in the bay.
Ka-mo’o-o-ka-muliwai was a mo’o (supernatural lizard) that guarded the Hanalei river mouth.The mo’o refused to let Hi’iaka, on her way to Hā’ena to get Lohi’au for her sister Pele, the volcano goddess, cross the river and sent freshets of water to sweep her off her feet. Hi’iaka struck it dead and since that time it has not been as difficult to cross the river.
Hanalei was the home of Ka-ua-hoa (friendly rain), a warrior who lived circa 1660. He was born in the same day and place as the future ruling chief ‘Ai-kanaka (Leader of men), and his cousin Kawelo-lei-makua (Kawelo beloved by his parents). In the war between these two, ‘Aikanaka did not immediately call upon Kauahoa, who sat in the headwaters of Hanalei river and dammed up the water for so long that the fish gasped in the dry bottom. After he was summoned, Kauahoa tore up a koa tree to use as a war club. He did not trim the branches from the trunk and as he trudged along, birds perched in the branches and sang. Kauahoa and Kaweloleimakua met on the battlefield in single combat. Kauahoa struck with his war club but Kawelo’s wife threw her pikoi and deflected the blow. Kawelo then struck Kauahoa and killed him.
Me’e u’io Hanalei
The handsome hero of Hanalei
Refers to Ka-ua-hoa [Pukui 2151]
[Geo] [Dickey] [PEM] [Pukui] [Rice]
Hanalei … ‘āina a ka pe’a i noho ai
Hanalei … land where the bat lived [PE]